In Russia, one particularly grim occupation performed by serfs and low-paid labourers was that of barge-hauling. Haulers, or burlaks, would be harnessed like workhorses to heavy barges on Russia's rivers, such as the Volga, pulling the barges upstream. Both men and women were engaged in this gruelling work.
In 1870-3 (after War and Peace was written) the Russian realist painter Ilya Repin painted a famous scene of burlaks on the Volga. The painting had a tremendous impact in Russia, as the wider public became aware of their plight. However, the occupation did not die out until the twentieth century.